by Cynthia Eze
The word ‘startup’ is perceived as a young company or organization, but little did we know that an organization can be recognized as a startup for a decade — yes, a decade. Now a Startup is always looking to find and execute on their business model, but they’re also looking to do so promptly—and in a way that significantly impacts the current market, meaning they’re not looking to maintain a small, limited team forever. Typically speaking, to operate a business, you don’t need a big market. You just need a market and you need to be able to reach and serve all of those within your market.
13 years ago, Seamfix started as a startup; no investor, 100% risk, a dream team, and with just 500$ (about N75,000 then). A lot of you would be wondering how this was possible because startups are known for constantly staking out funds and investors. We were able to merge our unique offerings with imperative leadership and strategies.
Anybody can sit in a corner and assign tasks, but there is more to effective leadership than that. Competent leaders have major impacts on not only the employees they manage but also their organization as a whole. At Seamfix, the management team swiftly realised that when the staff work under great leadership, they are more productive, happier, and more connected to the organization’s goals.
In order to be a good leader and lead a team generally, it is important to have a certain set of attributes, as well as the drive. Start-ups can be spectacularly difficult to get off the ground, and unless you are willing to put in required hard work and efforts, this nursing company could become another failed attempt.
In this article, I will share 6 leadership strategies that led Seamfix from a startup into the successful multinational that we are today.
We made sure that our goals were realistic and employee expectations for the team was a basic key to team success-this was a basic priority for us. When setting these objectives, we encouraged employee questions and feedback, including them in every process and increasing engagement. For a leader to motivate and inspire, you need to keep our team in the know about our vision, this helps employees understand the end result they’re working towards as a team. When goals are clearly set, everyone can track progress and identify achievements in a tangible manner.
We never let our team members’ goals go static. Periodically we revisit goals to modify or reposition them as needed. This will let the team members know that you are present and aware of what they are working on – with that, we can be able to measure progress.
In a startup structure, the team members or employees aren’t the only ones who can benefit from genuine feedback. I perceive feedback or reviews as gold because it helps to discover areas where I or the business needs improvement. Also, noting that your team can give you critical insight into what’s working, what’s not working and what obstacles we all must overcome to achieve a goal – is important.
Genuine feedback, even if it’s criticism – is the best way to guide the team in the right direction. You also need to know exactly where your business is headed so you can give them the right guidance or direction. In order to grow as a start-up, we had to imbibe the culture of organizing day to day review sessions, so as to know where to buckle up.
Thinking out of the box was a strategy that helped us reach our goal as a startup, we hired talents from diversified backgrounds and fields of work-we avoided being biased. Different talents bring their diversified personality that adds unique value to your company. Having a heterogeneous work atmosphere will provide more room for creativity and individualistic ideas. Also, the team members will be able to balance and counterbalance each other’s performance and rectify the challenges or mistakes in their tasks.
Employees typically imitate or are influenced by their leader’s attitude. If you focus on being positive and manage daily work in a positive way, this will translate to the rest of the employees. Discourage and avoid being negative and shift the focus to what is positive during difficult times. As much as leaders wish their team’s day-to-day activities could run smoothly all the time, they’re bound to run into the occasional obstacle. Whether it’s a minor miscommunication or a major error.
Confidence on the other hand is a very addictive trait we practice in Seamfix. When a leader shows a confident face, your team will become empowered. That leads to strong, positive teams who are able to hit the ground running.
As a leader it is critical to take the role of a cheerleader for your team, this is one strategy that worked in Seamfix. We were not just about getting the work done or being the best tech company in Africa, we were interested in investing in the success and growth of our team members. Empower your team to take the time to learn and instill that in the work they do.
This is one strategy that conquers all-from time to time encourages communication amongst your team members, and also with them. In Seamfix where we have a large management team, we endeavor to stay in touch with each person to ensure that your finger is on the pulse of what is going on. Every employee including the leaders in the company must be working towards the same goal. Having regular meetings and encouraging communication is the first step in accomplishing this.
No matter the situation, we cultivated a culture of showing our team members that we are on the same page, this can go a long way. No team will be 100% effective all of the time. Spending time understanding the team members and recognizing any issues, either work or personal, that may affect them in the workplace will go a long way. Understanding your team also allows us to identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and give them appropriate roles within the team. Personal connection with your teammates is vital to developing the shared trust necessary to build a strong culture of accountability and exceptional performance.
Seamfix started as a startup with no investor, guided with these strategies listed above. Now, aside from being an established company with annual revenue of over seven (7) figures, we are recognized as a thought-leader in Nigeria’s technology ecosystem.
The results we have seen from applying these strategies were improved performance, stronger working relationships, and greater wellbeing. In the long run, every entrepreneur needs to remember that it’s the team, with their wider range of skills and experience, that builds the leader’s success – and not the other way around. This rarely happens with total control leadership.
Asides from leading a startup team to victory, remember that being a good leader takes time also. Although some individuals are naturally inclined to have good leadership skills, it is something anyone can learn and improve upon with hard work, strategic planning and dedication. Leaders are only as successful as their teams and the great ones know that with the right team dynamics, decisions and diverse personalities, everyone wins in the end.